The long-awaited return of a full-fledged junior B lacrosse season in Cochrane is just around the corner, as the Rockyview Silvertips get set to kick off their 2022 campaign on April 28.
While the Silvertips participated in a 10-game exhibition season last summer, head coach Tyler Waycott said the U21 squad's players are fired up for what will be their first full season in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) since 2019.
“They’re very excited,” he said. "They’ve worked hard and it’s definitely been a driving force in our training camp, having that excitement to actually build toward playing rather than having that uncertainty.
“It’s been great to see the athletes have that drive again and look forward to the upcoming season – they definitely deserve it.”
Waycott is returning as the Silvertips' bench boss this season after previously coaching the junior B Tier 1 team in 2018. He said he is happy to be back involved with the Cochrane-based organization.
“I love the game and missed being involved in lacrosse,” he said, noting some of the rookie junior players he coached in 2018 are still involved with the team.
“To come back and work with that group again and all the young players who have been added to the line-up, it just seemed like a great fit," he said. "This team has a great opportunity to do something special this year, we truly believe.”
This year's Silvertips line-up will include a mix of returning and new players. Given the lack of a formal RMLL season in 2020 and 2021, even the third-year players will be fairly new to the junior B game.
“We’ll have a very high-octane offence who can put up a lot of numbers for us,” Waycott promised, adding two returning forwards who are expected to generate some offensive firepower this season include 2021 captain Nolan Oakey and JD Halcro. Both fifth-year players are returning to the 'Tips after starring for field lacrosse programs in the NCAA this past year.
“When you look at our line-up, one name that will pop out is still Nolan Oakey," Waycott said. "He was just named an athlete award down in the NCAA and he’s had a good season offensively. He played for Team Canada West last summer in Winnipeg, and he’s definitely a [player] who will put up some big numbers – at least, that’s what we’re hoping for."
On the back end, Waycott said the Silvertips will rely on the defensive capabilities of returning players like Adam Bartolome and Patrick Morrow.
So far the team has played two pre-season exhibition games – an 11-9 win over the Calgary Mountaineers junior B Tier 1 team, and a heavy-handed loss against the Rockyview Knights senior B team.
“We’ve had a good training camp," he said, adding the Silverips will still add a few more players to the line-up before the real season gets underway.
The team's first regular-season match-up will be a road game this Friday evening against the Calgary Chill – a team that has become a perennial rival for the 'Tips in recent years. The two teams shared some heated battles in 2018 and 2019, contributing to their on-court animosity.
The Chill knocked the Silvertips out in the first round of the RMLL playoffs in 2018, while the Silvertips did the same the following year.
“It seems to be an opponent our organization has always had good games against," Waycott said, noting the rivalry has been a bit on-ice for the last two years.
Following their battle with the Chill, the 'Tips will travel to Lethbridge on Sunday to face the Barracudas.
After beginning the season with four away fixtures, Rockyview's home-opener will be held May 13 against the Mountainview Mavericks at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre.
Waycott said it's great that competitive lacrosse is back in Cochrane and area, and said he hopes local sports fans will come out to the Spray Lake arena this spring and summer to support the team.
For a full schedule, visit https://rockymountainlax.com/